Editor's note: This story contains graphic content.
Four teenage boys have been charged with an aggravated hate crime over a suspected homophobic attack against two women on a London bus on May 30.
Melania Geymonat was on her way home from an evening out with her girlfriend, Chris, when the couple jumped on a night bus to Camden, London.
It was about 2:30 a.m. when a group allegedly began “behaving like hooligans” on the top deck of the N31 bus, according to Geymonat, who posted about her experience on Facebook.
She alleges that the men began making crude comments, describing sexual positions, and insisted that the young women kiss each other for their entertainment.
The men then allegedly attacked the women, drawing blood, and leaving the women hospitalised with facial injuries, reported the Independent.
Two of the boys charged under the Public Order Act are 16, one is 15, and one is 17, according to the Metropolitan Police announcement on Thursday.
All four are due to appear at Highbury Corner Youth Court on Aug. 21.
“In an attempt to calm things down, I started making jokes,” Geymonat wrote in her Facebook post. “I thought this might make them go away. Chris even pretended she was sick, but they kept on harassing us, throwing us coins, and becoming more enthusiastic about it.”
Geymonat, 28, shared the harrowing experience on her Facebook page in June, reflecting the abuse faced by women and the LGBTQI+ community on a daily basis. Geymonat’s post went viral in the days following.
The Metro reports that Geymonat is originally from Uruguay, but moved to Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, in February on a sabbatical from her medical studies. She works as an air hostess for Ryanair, while her girlfriend Chris lives in Camden.
The attack provoked rage and empathy online from an array of public figures including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
The UK launched the largest survey of LGBTQI+ people anywhere in the world in June 2017, polling over 108,000 people, including 61% who identified as gay or lesbian, as part of a 75-point action plan that featured a ban on so-called “gay conversion therapy.”
It found that two-thirds of respondents feared holding hands in public, while nearly a quarter said that somebody in the workplace had responded negatively to their being LGBTQI+. Hate crimes had been experienced by 40%, while nine in 10 serious incidents went unreported.
There has been a marked increase in homophobic hate crimes in London every year since 2014. Indeed, the BBC reports that it’s doubled between 2014 and 2018 — with 2,308 reported crimes in the capital last year, compared with 1,488 four years before.
One detective said that was in some part due to better reporting, with more willingness for victims to come forward, and better awareness by police.
Britain is the fourth-best country in the world for LGBTQI+ rights, according to the ILGA-Europe Rainbow index, a snapshot of January to December 2018, published this year.